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The Vinyl Issue: Michael Chabon's Favourite LPs

The Pulitzer prize-winning author and vinyl obsessive picks 10 pieces of vinyl that changed his life.

Michael Chabon has a nasty habit – a wallet-draining vinyl obsession that well into its fifth decade continues to burn with the intensity of a thousand solar flares. Thankfully, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of modern classics like Telegraph Avenue (set in a fictitious used-record store), has the means to support his jones. “There’s simply no comparison to two good speakers, a turntable and a cartridge,” he tells Classic Rock. We asked Michael to share his 10 essential slices.

Themes Like Old Times

Various (1969)

When I was four my dad took me to the library and picked this collection of old-time radio themes out and we brought it home. This was the world of his childhood and it all came pouring out of the cloth-covered speaker grills of our GE record player. It was an incredibly important moment because I saw that with a record, you could connect to somebody else’s life in another place and another time.


The Loco-Motion

Grand Funk Railroad, 7-inch (1974)

The original was way before my time but this cover version by Grand Funk Railroad was the first 45 that I bought myself. I remember sitting in my room and listening to that thing over and over again. After this I began saving my money and buying more 45s.


The Velvet Underground (1970)

Loaded had Sweet Jane and Rock & Roll which, to me, are the two of the greatest songs ever about rock itself and about what it is and how it feels to listen to it. 


Kind Of Blue

Miles Davis (1959)

In 1987 I had moved into this house in Laguna Beach, California and, tragically, my record collection had gone missing. I went into this second-hand store and there was a copy of Kind Of Blue sitting there. I bought it because it was going to be the only record I’d have for a while and it became the soundtrack to that period of my life.



The Pretenders (1980)

This is one of the most astonishing debut albums in the history of music. On songs like Tattooed Love Boys you’re wondering, “Who is Chrissie (Hynde) singing about when she says, “I shot my mouth off and you showed me what that hole was for?’” That was just one of those obsessive listening records for me. 


#1 Record/Radio City

Big Star (German Import, 1987)

I tracked down this double album, but I didn’t have a turntable at the time, so I rented a record player and speakers, just so I could listen to the first two Big Star records! [laughs] I was so hungry to hear what I knew I was going to love, and I did. It’s like pop rock made by fans of pop rock. That’s its essence.


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